The campaign to force a vote on the city’s arena subsidy appears to be closing in on its goal of collecting enough signatures to qualify the measure for the June 2014 ballot. That success, however, also seems to depend upon whether the campaign can find the thousands of signatures financed by Chris Hansen.
Monica Harris, whose Momentum Political Services has been hired by Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork (STOP) to collect signatures for the arena vote, said Thursday that the campaign has collected nearly 20,000 valid petitions for the ballot measure. Those petitions have been verified by a third-party vendor, Harris said.
The campaign needs to turn in 22,000 valid signatures by the middle of December, and Harris said the effort would seek to collect 30,000 to ensure a buffer when county elections officials examine the records.
Still, STOP continues to search for thousands of signatures collected earlier this summer with money from Hansen, who tried to buy the Kings and move them to Seattle. Those signatures are included within the 20,000 the campaign is counting.
STOP has tried to contact Brandon Powers, the political consultant who helped arrange the signature effort with Hansen’s money, but Powers has not returned the group’s phone calls, said John Hyde, STOP’s consultant. Powers declined to comment Thursday to The Sacramento Bee.
Hansen has said he will try to prevent the signatures he financed from being filed, saying they were funded without his consent or knowledge with money he had provided to a Los Angeles law firm that represented the Maloofs in the family’s failed attempt to sell the Kings to Hansen. Hyde said STOP’s attorneys believe Hansen is legally obligated to file the petitions.
In the meantime, Harris is seeking to clear her name after pro-arena advocates claimed she had used voter registration records to find potential customers for an energy company that paid her to sell its services door to door.
Harris supplied The Bee with a roster of employees who have collected signatures in recent weeks for a proposed ballot measure that would require voter approval of sports facility subsidies. She then provided a roster of workers who had gone door to door selling services from Texas-based Vista Energy. None of the names appeared on both rosters.
Harris also showed The Bee a list of sales records for the Vista contract. Most of the addresses where sales were made in recent weeks were not in the city of Sacramento.
Sitting in her office in a Folsom Boulevard strip mall, Harris said four employees who have worked on the STOP arena campaign were filing depositions with an attorney to say they did not co-mingle the arena work with selling services for Vista.
Still, DowntownArena.org – proponents of the arena – said Wednesday they had asked the secretary of state’s election fraud unit to investigate whether Momentum had used voter records to find customers for Vista.
Harris called the claim “a smoke screen” and said she had contacted an attorney about potentially filing a suit against DowntownArena.org.
Vista fired Harris on Thursday morning. Paul Atha, a company director, said he did not have any proof that Harris had improperly used voter records to sell Vista goods and that, “I don’t care that she was or not.”
“We don’t want to be affiliated with the discussion,” Atha said.
Harris said the claims by DowntownArena.org have emboldened her efforts.
“This is going to make the ballot,” she said. “If the mayor and (DowntownArena.org) weren’t afraid of what people thought of the arena, they would let the people vote.”